Johann Sebastian Bach
When I was asked to write for The Relevant Christian, I was very excited because it is a special joy to tell how I have been able to use the music that I have played since childhood in order to reach out to others and encourage them to use their talents and interests they already have, or to explore new possibilities. The things we have done with this particular genre of music can be done for other genres as well. I just happen to like the foot stompin’, hand clappin’ interactive old-time gospel music played on banjos, fiddle, guitars, mandolins and other stringed instruments.
I am not here to put any other style of music down. I want to show you how you can use what you love and enjoy serving the Lord. We have to be somewhat comfortable in a worship setting in order to worship, and that is where my journey into this ministry really began.
I grew up in South Texas and never remembered a time when I wasn’t involved in music. My father was a music director and the lullabies he sang to me were old gospel songs like “Precious Memories.” Beginning about age five, I picked out songs on the piano, but didn’t have formal lessons until I was 8. By the time I was ten, I played for church services. That year I added a guitar and fiddle (violin at that time) to my repertoire. Through the years, I learned to play most other stringed folk instruments.
Although I played classical music, I was drawn to country music and that didn’t sit well with my dad. I was not allowed to play George Jones in the house – at least when he was there! However, Daddy loved the old Stamps Baxter songs that we would sing around the piano in Central Texas at my mother’s home place farm, and this is where my love for the old music began.
When things in most churches in the area where I lived, changed, hymnals were absent, few old hymns and no gospel songs were sang; electrified instruments, drums, etc vanished, and I found I just didn’t enjoy the services any more.
Along with some other folks, we began an alternative church in 1999 called, The Old Country Church. The next summer I began doing something I always wanted to do–– produce a free bluegrass gospel festival. Since then we have branched out to do other ministries around this genre of music, like concerts, another bluegrass gospel church, jams, lessons, a music store, a gospel group of our own, outreaches to senior homes and other facilities, a radio show, videos on television, a bluegrass gospel musical and more. Many of the bands who have played at our festivals over the years are now doing their own ministries.
It is so exciting and rewarding to see God at work using the talents He has given us. If we are faithful to use what we have, He will multiply it and give us blessing after blessing.
I look forward to sharing how we can accomplish these various outreaches in the hope that others will be inspired and start their own ministries built around whatever genre of gospel music they enjoy.
Coming up this summer is the fourteenth year of the first festival we started. It is called GospelGrass on the Divide, June 29 – 30 in Monument, CO at the Church at Woodmoor. There are nearby hotels and camping nearby. Call 303.638.3725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for camping or other info for any of these festivals. Glen Rose GospelGrass will take place in Glen Rose, TX, Sept. 27 – 29. Rough camping and cabins are on site and there are hotels in the area. Next year, Goldfield GospelGrass will take place, tentatively, the first weekend in February in Goldfield, Arizona, north of Apache Junction. Rough camping on site and there are hotels nearby. All festivals are free.
To listen to the Old Time Radio Gospel Hour, go to www.oldtimeradiogospelhour.com. Find the Bluegrass Gospel Church on Facebook, as well as the radio show. Keep in touch and become part of the GospelGrass family!